How to work Back Stitch

Back stitch sampleBack stitch is often used along side cross stitch to define a clean neat line in a design. It is classified as a linear stitch because you can create lines with it! Back stitch is an old adaptable stitch which can be used as a delicate outline or as a foundation in composite stitches, such as Pekinese stitch. It is also a great stitch to whip or thread with a heavier yarn. You can add beads to it too!

Back stitch sample using hand dyed threadIf you want to work blackwork patterns using hand dyed or variegated threads use back stitch. Many blackwork patterns can be very effective worked this way and the changing colours  add a contemporary touch to a traditional style of hand embroidery.

Back stitch sample on contemporary hand embroideryThis is a stitch that is considered a basic stitch as it is always introduced to beginners, but I feel  people underestimate  its versatility which ensures its timeless appeal to generations of stitchers. For instance in this sample (click to see a larger version)  I have used back stitch to define the lines of the sand. Set against the highly textured embroidery the simple ‘basic’ stitch creates the contrast I wanted.

Back stitch step by step tutorialIf needed, mark your line with a quilters pencil or soluble pen or pencil. Bring the thread up from the back of the fabric on the line that you want to create. Make a small backward stitch through the fabric.

Bring the needle through the fabric a little in front of the first stitch and still on the line. Pull the thread through the fabric.

Make the second stitch backward,inserting the needle down into the hole made by the first stitch and bringing the needle out a little in front of the second stitch but still on the line. Repeat this movement and continue sewing in such a manner along the line.

Back stitch is also known as point de sable

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Take a Stitch Tuesday #140 Threaded Cable Chain

Threaded Cable Chain is a fun stitch that quick and easy to work as it is a laced version of Cable chain. Needless to say you need to know how to work Cable Chain stitch but it was TAST stitch # 25 so you will find directions on how to work it here.

How to work Threaded Cable Chain Stitch

In this sample I have worked the Cable Chain in perle #5 cotton and it is laced with a soft metallic thread.

Threaded Cable Chain step 1First work a row of Cable Chain stitch (directions are here)

Threaded Cable Chain step  2Using a blunt-ended tapestry needle, so that the foundation threads do not split, lace a second thread under each of the cable chain stitches.

Threaded Cable Chain step 3Lace the length of the row and take the thread to the back of the fabric.
Threaded Cable Chain step 4Turn your work bring the thread to the front of your work and lace back along the row.

Threaded Cable Chain step 5This stitch follows a curve well and you can add lots of variety by adding interesting threads or beads.

Threaded Cable Chain step 6

This is the last TAST stitch of the year.  Since it is just a few weeks to Christmas and the Holiday season most people drop away this time of year. This year instead of racing around trying to write tutorials in December I am taking a TAST break. I will return next year to continue the series if there is interest but in the meanwhile will open a post for anyone who is working away at the stitches.

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Take a Stitch Tuesday #138 Barb Stitch and #139 Beaded Barb stitch

This week the stitch for TAST is a composite stitch called Barb stitch which is another simple stitch that is easy to work yet versatile enough to create lots of variations. Barb stitch creates a line with a ridge down the center. You can work Barb stitch in a single line straight or on a curve. When worked in curve, in an irregular manner it looks very organic which means it is good for twiggy bits incorporated in a floral motif.

Or if you work Barb stitch in a straight line you can vary the height of the arms to create patterns. Another method is to repeat rows to create a border. Different arrangements of the rows can build up interlocking patterns to create interesting needlework fillings.

How to work Barb stitch

You need to know how to work buttonhole stitch to work barb stitch as is consists of two foundation rows of buttonhole worked back to back. These are then whipped with a second thread.

Barb Stitch step 1First work a row of buttonhole stitch.

Barb Stitch step2Turn your work and work a second row of buttonhole stitch so that the two rows are back to back.

With a second thread, using a blunt-ended tapestry needle, so that the foundation threads do not split whip the lines of buttonhole stitches. Slide the needle under each loop at the base of the buttonhole whip two rows of buttonhole together as illustrated.

Barb Stitch step 3Continue the length of the line.

Barb Stitch step 4The threads I used in the sample is cotton perle #5 but you can whip in a contrasting colour, texture or thickness to the thread used for the foundation rows. Metallic yarns can create a rich effect. You can use the buttonhole rows to couch down ribbons or textured novelty yarns.

How to work Beaded Barb Stitch

With this stitch the beading is done during the stitching process not added afterward. The trick is use a size 26 tapestry needle. Since the eye of a tapestry needle is long you can thread perle #8 and Perle #5 through the long eye. However the needle itself is thin which means you can add a bead to your working thread as you stitch.

Work two rows of buttonhole stitch back to back as you would with regular barb stitch.

Beaded Barb Stitch step  1With a second thread, using a #26 tapestry needle, so that you can thread a bead on your working thread slide the needle under loop at the base of the buttonhole to whip the two rows together. Whip the first stitch then add a bead to your working thread before whipping the second stitch. Continue down the line and whip every second stitch with a bead on your thread as illustrated.

Beaded Barb Stitch step  2Both versions are a very easy and quick to work I hope you enjoy the stitch!

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Take a Stitch Tuesday 136 and 137 Knotted buttonhole band and Beaded Knotted buttonhole band

This week I have 2 stitches for Take a Stitch Tuesday. The first is Knotted buttonhole band and the second is the beaded version. I found this stitch in Edith Johns book, Creative Stitches which was published in 1967 and is long out of print. It looks extremely dated and boring now, but it is a real gem as there are some hidden treasures in it.
Knotted buttonhole band is interesting textured stitch which produces a line with a double ridge. It is ideal for borders or to create heavy lines. It can also be used as an edging stitch. You can often substitute knotted buttonhole band in patterns that require buttonhole (or blanket stitch).

Normally you work this stitch in the same thread but I have worked it in two colours so that readers can easily see what is happening in the demonstration.

However you can experiment with varying your threads. For instance if you use a metallic cord to form the ladder foundation it can be very effective as a bit of glitter peeks through.This sample is worked in cotton perle 5 but if you want a real chunky ridge try a fine silk ribbon. It works really well.
The only limit is that the thread has to behave itself enough to be knotted twice and still sit proud.
Also if you vary the spacing and width of the ladder stitches it can totally change the appearance of the stitch.

How to work Knotted buttonhole band

Knotted buttonhole band step 1To work the stitch start by creating an evenly spaced line of straight stitches.

Knotted buttonhole band step 2Note With Knotted buttonhole band you are not stitching through the fabric but stitching on the foundation of straight stitches.

Work the stitch from top to bottom. Bring your needle out at the top of the first bar of the ladder. Tuck the needle under the bar and wrap the thread under the needle like you would in buttonhole.

Make sure the needle is pointing to the left with the thread on the left as illustrated in the photograph.

Knotted buttonhole band step 3Take the needle through and pull the thread through to create the first loop.

Knotted buttonhole band step4Pass the needle through the loop you just created, as illustrated in the photograph.
Wrap the thread under the needle and pull the needle through to create a second loop. It looks like a little knot on the bar and this is what causes the ridge along the stitch.

Knotted buttonhole band step5As you can see the knot is quite pronounced. Make sure the knot is not too tight. It is knotted but not distorting the foundation stitch. The trick to keeping an even tension is to work this stitch in a hoop and don’t pull too tight as if you do it will distort the foundation stitches.

Knotted buttonhole band step6Move to the next foundation bar and create the next loop and continue down the bar in this way until you have reached the bottom. You now have the first side of the stitch.
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Take your needle to the top of the row and repeat only this time point your needle to right as you make the loops.

Knotted buttonhole band step7How to work Beaded Knotted buttonhole band

The beaded version of Knotted buttonhole band is worked in the same manner except that you add a bead on every second knot.

Use a 26 tapestry needle. The eye of a tapestry needle is long which means you can thread perle #8 and Perle #5 through. However the needle itself is thin which means you can add a bead to your working thread as you stitch.

Beaded Knotted buttonhole band 1Work this stitch up to the point where you work the knot loop to the bar. At this point add a bead to every second foundation bar.

Beaded Knotted buttonhole band2

Work one side of the bar.

Beaded Knotted buttonhole band3Then take your thread to top and  work the second side of the bar.

Beaded Knotted buttonhole band 4You can also add a bead to the first loop in the process and nudge the bead to one side so that it sits on the outside of the line. Both produce a decorative band that makes an ideal edge for small items such as needle-cases, purses, etc.

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How to join TAST
Stitch a sample of this stitch or ANY of the stitches listed on the TAST FAQ page. Once you have worked a sample,  photograph it and put it online at your blog, flickr site etc then swing back to the Last TAST post listed   and leave a comment.  This is a guilt free challenge to learn hand embroidery stitches. You can stitch 1,  10 or all of the TAST stitches, swing in and out of the chellenge as life dictates and generally mooch along learning a bit here and bit there.  All are welcome.


Take a Stitch Tuesday 135 Beaded Fern Stitch

Last week I introduced Fern stitch to the TAST series of stitches. I had some very positive feedback so I thought to add the beaded version. It is just as simple and very versatile and is ideal to use in floral sprays and is ideal for simple Christmas wreaths.

beaded fern stitch sampleFor the sample I have used perle 8 hand dyed variegated thread and a size a size 26 tapestry needle. Since the beading is done during the stitching process not added afterward use a 26 tapestry needle. The eye of a tapestry needle is long which means you can thread perle #8 and Perle #5 through. However the needle itself is thin which means you can add a bead to your working thread as you stitch. I have used seed beads in this sample.

How to work Beaded Fern Stitch

Beaded Fern Stitch consists of a simple arrangement of 3 straight stitches along a central line. Every second arm along the line you add beads to.

beaded fern stitch step 1
Work 3 straight stitches as you would with ferns stitch and bring your working thread out from the back of the fabric. Thread 2 or 3 seed beads on to your needle.

beaded fern stitch step 2With the beads on the thread work a straight stitch on the left side.

beaded fern stitch step 3With the beads on the thread work a straight stitch on the other side. Next work a unit of 3 straight stitches that are normal fern stitch.

beaded fern stitch step 4This pattern is repeated along the line. Beaded Fern stitch is pretty particularly when worked on a curve or in a free form manner. You can also use bugle beads or even some novelty beads if they are the right size.

Subscribe to my newsletter of stitching goodies!

In my revamped newsletter I offer my regular readers exclusive freebies that are not offered on the blog. I also include stitching and crazy quilting tips, news and even the occasional dash of stitching philosophy! Subscribe here

Or follow me on Facebook and just click that like button to get TAST stitch updates there.

How to join TAST
Stitch a sample of this stitch or ANY of the stitches listed on the TAST FAQ page. Once you have worked a sample,  photograph it and put it online at your blog, flickr site etc then swing back to the Last TAST post listed   and leave a comment.  This is a guilt free challenge to learn hand embroidery stitches. You can stitch 1,  10 or all of the TAST stitches, swing in and out of the chellenge as life dictates and generally mooch along learning a bit here and bit there.  All are welcome.